The holidays can be a time of stress for many. For some the holidays are a negative stressor, with worries about finances, family conflict, or feelings of loneliness and depression. For others the holidays can be a positive stressor with endless activities, gatherings, and to-do lists.
For those who are beginning to feel their stress levels rise, here are some tips to help manage stress this holiday season.
- Examine your expectations for the holidays and consider if they are realistic or not. Remember, there are only 24 hours in a day and something is bound to not go perfectly.
- Prioritize the traditions that are important to you, and consider skipping some of those things you really don’t enjoy or care about.
- Create and stick with a budget. Gifts don’t have to be expensive and sometimes less is more.
- Be sure to get enough rest – Staying up late with friends and family can be fun, but don’t get carried away. It’s easier to deal with stress when you are well rested.
- Exercise – With so much to do or if you feel discouraged or depressed, it is easy to put your exercise routine on the back burner. But exercise impacts our health and often our mood. You can try switching things up a little during the holidays – go skiing, take a walk, have a family yoga session or a dance competition. But try to do something.
- Avoid overeating – It can be really easy to overeat during Thanksgiving and Christmas. At the very least that can cause you to feel bloated and kind of sick. Some people can gain a few pounds and then allow that to impact their self-image. Practice being more mindful of the foods you eat. Try really savoring and enjoying each bite. People who eat this way often find they eat less, but are more satisfied.
- Listen to music you enjoy – Music can be a powerful tool for helping us feel better. Make time to listen to music you enjoy during the holidays - maybe as you cook, visit, drive, or dance. It doesn’t have to be holiday music, but it does need to be music that helps you feel good.
- Connect with others and enjoy spending time together. If you don’t have family or friends to spend the holidays with, consider volunteering and reaching out to others who could use some help or some company.
- Be sure to take a little time for yourself – Enjoy a bubble bath, read a book, watch a favorite movie, put together a puzzle – do something that helps you relax. You will have more energy for the many holiday activities if you invest a little time in yourself.
- Tune into your five senses and take a moment to really enjoy your favorite things about the holidays. Some examples include:
Sounds - (Christmas carols, bells, laughter)
Smells - (Pine, cinnamon, pumpkin)
Tastes - (Peppermint, hot chocolate, turkey, dressing, pie)
Touch - (Hugs, cozy blankets, heat from the fireplace, pine needles)